22 Experts on Which 2015 Social Media Trends to Watch

December 29, 2014

2015 social media trends

With another year behind us and a new year on the horizon, digital marketers are looking ahead with excitement. As new technology, tools, and trends emerge, we thought it might be useful to ask some of the industry’s brightest thought leaders what they will be watching in the new year ahead. Here’s what they said when we asked them all one question — which 2015 social media trends will you be watching and why?

David Meerman Scott

david meerman scottSales & Marketing Strategist & Best-Selling Author of 10 Books Including The New Rules of Sales and Service
“Marketing and sales are converging in digital. 2015 will be the year marketers will embrace their sales colleagues rather than fight them about leads.”

Jay Baer

President of Convince and Convert, Author of Youtility
jay baer youtility
“2015 will be the year of Cooperative Content. Companies want to create more and more content (including social content), but how can they do so efficiently (and affordably)? Increasingly, the answer will be found in their customers and their employees. 2015 will bring decentralized content creation programs with participants across the company (not just marketing), as well as content initiatives that rely on user-generated social content in expanded and highly strategic ways. The best source of content in most companies may be right under your nose: your employees and customers.”

Peter Shankman

peter shankmanAuthor of Zombie Loyalists (January, 2015)
“Hopefully, 2015 will be the year that companies finally realize that fixing a customer’s problem because they posted online about it isn’t the right path, but rather, focusing on customer service so that the problem doesn’t occur in the first place, and the customer instead posted about their great experience, thus leading to new customers and increased revenue, is.”

Gini Dietrich

CEO Arment Dietrich, Author of Spin Sucks

Gini DietrichI still think integration is the big trend for 2015 (I said this last year, too, and it’s becoming a reality). You’ll see this with amplification of content, more metrics for real results, and less specialization and more fully thought-out programs. I also think anonymous social media apps that allow us to maintain the perception of anonymity, but may not be all that anonymous are something to watch. We’ve already seen What’s App being used to solicit young girls into ISIS and SnapChat revealing inappropriate photos. There will be more of that in 2015. Remember: Never post anything online—anonymous or not—that you don’t want later used against you.”

John Jantsch

Marketing Consultant, Speaker, and Author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network
john jantsch“Social selling will go mainstream – and I don’t simply mean that more salespeople will wake up to the power of prospecting on LinkedIn. Organizations will build editorial calendars around the objective of getting salespeople to personalize a great deal of content down to the individual prospect level. This will become an initiative that moves out of the hands of the rogue salesperson and into the culture and strategy of the organization.”

Mark W. Schaefer

mark w schaeferSocial Media Marketing Speaker, Author of Social Media Explained
​”I believe managing through information density is the mega-trend that will determine much of the future in our industry. Rising above the noise to become the signal will influence our budgets, the channels we choose, and innovations in both content types and platforms.”

Amber Naslund

SVP Marketing, Sysomos
amber naslund“I’m keeping a close eye on the data availability for analytics and intelligence. Sites like Facebook are dramatically changing data available through APIs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other sites follow suit. It’s going to make a material difference in how we can track performance in social (and once again force us to emphasize platform-agnostic, integrated marketing that’s driven by content and owned media). ”

Rand Fishkin

Founder and Individual Contributor of MOZ
rand fishkin“In 2015, I think we’re going to see a continuing trend toward dark social traffic. Many of the visits sent by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others, appear as “direct” traffic in web analytics tools. This means marketers and executives are under-counting the value of social media investments. In addition, social drives a tremendous amount of latent branding for which it doesn’t get credit. Potential customers may learn about or get to know and like a brand on social platforms, which translates positively into transactions without any tracking. Social media marketers will have to be careful not to underinvest or under-credit given these realities.”

Tom Webster

VP of Strategy at Edison Research, Co-Author of The Mobile Commerce Revolution
tom webster“I think 2015 is going to be a good year for podcasting as a brand vehicle. It’s been an effective direct response vehicle for years, but now with the success of things like Serial and the development of a number of new shows with very targeted and passionate audiences (like the podcasts from Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, and Snooki) agencies are sitting up and taking notice of the uniquely engaging aspects of a podcast and the power of a host to move an audience to action. I’ve been following podcasting as the space’s leading analyst for a decade, and I’ve never been more excited for the medium.”

Michael Stelzner

Founder of Social Media Examiner
michael stelzner“Video distribution will radically transform how marketers work in 2015. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will show preferential treatment to video content that is hosted on their own platforms. This means that marketers will be uploading original video content to each social network, and not just short videos. Social networks will give extra exposure to directly uploaded videos because they keep users on the platform longer and provide unique advertising opportunities.”

Joe Pulizzi

Founder of Content Marketing Institute and Author of Epic Content Marketing
joe pulizzi“First, podcasting is absolutely going to explode in 2015. We saw the run up in 2014, but we haven’t seen anything yet. 2015 is when large enterprises start to experiment with the platform. Some will do some very creative things and start to build audiences. Second, a few savvy larger enterprises, instead of putting in the extra effort on content and social, will start evaluating and purchasing niche media companies (buying audience, credibility and people).”

Lee Odden

CEO at TopRank Online Marketing and Author of Optimize
lee oddenCrowdsourced Social Media Content – Savvy brands will be investing even more in social technologies across the organization from social business platforms to foster internal collaboration and efficiency to external participation marketing efforts to crowdsource content with social networks. Companies that can inspire their social communities to co-create and collaborate on content will be able to scale the impact of their social media investments. Combining social crowdsourced content with targeted social advertising will create even more competitive advantages.”

Joe Chernov

joe chernovVice President of Content at Hubspot
“Social media marketers will become the new SEOs. Like a good counter-puncher in boxing, the best social media marketers will adapt to algorithm changes more quickly than their competition. It’s possible the two roles, SEO and social, fuse into a single ‘optimization’ role.”

Bryan Kramer

President and CEO of purematter
bryan kramerTransmedia Storytelling – The story is everywhere now, it’s not something we just see online, or in the lobby waiting for our next appointment, or on the road, or on a social network. The story is everywhere, yet as marketers we are designing the story for each individual channel. I think we’ll see this changing next year, where the story is continued and pieced together as a transmedia thread, giving us bite-sized pieces of information while entertaining us at the same time. It’s how we respond as humans. For as poorly as the movie business is at leveraging social media, they are actually really good at snippet storytelling in many diverse places. Watch how the upcoming Star Wars movie surrounds you, making you feel like the movie is just a small piece of the experience they’ve conceived for you to have.”

Drew McLellan

Top Dog at both Agency Management Institute and McLellan Marketing Group
drew mclellan“2015 will be the year that brands start to recognize that to produce relevant content they have to write less and listen more. We’ll see a surge in advisory groups, consumer councils, focus groups, online opinion lightening rods, and brands slowing down long enough to hear what the consumer is trying to say. As the content produced becomes less about just creating activity and noise and more about actually providing the information consumers are looking for — my hope is that we’ll also see content given credit (and documented proof) for driving prospects into the sales funnel.”

John Michael Morgan

john michael morganAuthor of Brand Against the Machine
“The importance of storytelling in marketing is at an all-time high. The people who are able to make their audience part of the story are going to win in a big way. Storytelling isn’t going away. Use social media to get people to actively participate in the story.”

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone

Host of MarketingProfs’ Marketing Smarts Podcast
kerry gorgonePrepare to pony up some dough if you want to keep your brand visible on social channels. The free lunch has been over for a while, but some spark of hope kept businesses from investing more in paid options like social ads, sponsored posts, promoted tweets… The hope of breaking through the noise is finally giving way to the reality: facing a daily onslaught of new content (or “Content Shock” as Mark Schaefer calls it), the social networks have prioritized whose posts get seen, and it should come as no surprise that they’re prioritizing paid posts.”

Jim Tobin

President, Ignite Social Media
jim-tobin“The difference between great and bad brands on social will be stark. Great brands will figure out how to get people to actually talk about them. To use their products in interesting ways and document it. To share their content and have that content be brand relevant. The bad brands will produce ads on social channels and pay, sometimes handsomely, to boost them, getting the same relatively poor results they’ve had from banner ads for years. The bad brands will pay more and get less because they take the easy way out. The great brands will pay less because they invest more time upfront in creatively figuring out their social positioning.”

John Wall

Co-Host of Marketing Over Coffee
john wall“First, podcasting reaches the mass market. Applications like Stitcher have taken all the difficulty out of listening to podcasts. This year audiences will increase more than 20% as the less than tech savvy mass market comes on board. Second, everyone realizes smart watches are a bad idea. Other wearables and VR headsets gain but nobody finds a way to make the nerd watch something the mass market has to have.”

Nathan Wright

nathan t wrightDigital and Marketing Innovation at Hy-Vee
“Hire smart. Social media responsibilities shouldn’t just be handed to someone based on their age or amount of Twitter followers. Find someone who knows the AP Style Guide, has a fun writing style, and most importantly – understands your company’s business objectives.”

Amy Schmittauer

President of Vlog Boss Studios and Founder of Savvy Sexy Social
Amy“Going into the future with social media means looking back at the past. Nostalgia is going to continue be huge as the millennials evolve those Throwback Thursday posts on photo-sharing apps to shine light on the 90s and early two thousands or even new trends that remind them of the past, such as the renaissance of tabletop gaming. They say you shouldn’t judge your past to plan your future, but sharing the good times is always a blast and brands can profit from integrating it into their content planning.”

Andy Crestodina

Co-Founder and Strategic Director of Orbit Media Studios

andy crestodina“Twelve months from now, social media marketers will look and act like PPC marketers. That’s because 2015 will be the year that social traffic became all about the money. It will be a huge year for social advertising. Facebook has already announced there will be more throttling of the news feed in January. Combine that with two other facts: Twitter will feel more pressure to turn a profit and Google hasn’t yet put a single ad into G+ streams. Add it up and you’ll see more spending on more ads in more networks. Is that a bad thing? Not really. In 2015 social media marketers will earn big ROI for their clients with niche-targeting.”

Now That the Experts Have Weighed In …

What about you? The great thing about social media and digital marketing tools is that we can all dig in, try things out, and learn from our experiences. What have you learned? What social media trends are you keeping an eye on in 2015?

Happy New Year!

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.